China to review food recall measures, says report

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Food

China's ministry of health is set to review its current food recall
practices in a bid to adopt more stringent food safety practices
amidst the dynamic growth of processing in the country, say news
reports.

According to the China News service, the ministry this week has organised a group of the country's safety experts to asses how best to deal with future cases of dangerous products entering the food chain. News of the review comes as food and beverage groups face growing pressure from consumers to ensure the quality and safety of products entering the food chain. The report expects that the new measures will aim to ensure that food producers meet obligations in preventing contaminated products from entering the market, while also minimising their effect on consumers It added that with no official national body to currently enact food recalls, companies may not be supplying the relevant information needed to track dangerous products. This highlights the difficulties facing authorities in ensuring the safety of food products. Any new measures are therefore likely to be welcomed by consumers in the country, who are increasingly concerned over the safety of products they purchase. Last year, a poll of 868 people in the southern province of Guangzhou found that 80 per cent of those questioned were worried about the safety of food they purchased. The survey by the Guangzhou public opinion research centre during November found that more than 62 per cent of people believed government agencies could work more closely and increase the frequency of food inspection. They also wanted the penalty for breaking regulations to be increased. Food producers found guilty of selling poor quality or unsafe products face fines of up to CNY30,000 but this merely equals the cost of regular food testing. China saw a number of high profile food safety scares last year, including the discovery of the potentially carcinogenic colorant, Sudan Red, in duck eggs. Some 1,159kgs of eggs produced in Hebei Province near Beijing were pulled from supermarket shelves in the capital after tests showed that the red colour of the yolks - thought by consumers to be a sign of higher quality - were caused by the dye, likely added to chicken feed. The food safety problems have also highlighted the gap between rural and urban areas of China, both in terms of enforcement and awareness. The State Food and Drug Administration has so far only established its presence at the provincial level and in selected cities.

Related topics: Policy, Food safety, East Asia, China

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